EDMONTON, AB.- The Art Gallery of Alberta
(AGA), in downtown Edmonton, opened to the public on January 31, 2010. The remodeled 85,000 square foot gallery, designed by Los Angeles architect Randall Stout, features three floors of exhibition space that showcases historical and contemporary Canadian and international art. The opening marks a major milestone in the AGAs New Vision project and fulfills its goal of creating an art gallery of national significance for the Province of Alberta.
It is the AGAs dream that a rebuilt, renewed Art Gallery of Alberta will serve as a cultural centre of excellence for the Alberta community today and beyond, for generations to come, says Allan Scott, Chair, AGA Board of Directors. Our new building was planned, designed and constructed by an extremely talented and dedicated project team and the tireless AGA staff. The team deserves a great big thank you from everyone.
An official ribbon-cutting ceremony will took place on Saturday. This significant occasion followed more than 10 years of planning and three years of construction. The Art Gallery of Albertas New Vision building project has been funded by an $88 million capital campaign, with major support from all three levels of government as well as tremendous private sector donations.
Presiding over the hour-long private ceremony was the Chair of the AGAs Board of Directors, Allan E. Scott. In attendance was Canadas Minister of Public Works and Government Services, The Honourable Rona Ambrose; Minister of State, Western Economic Diversification, The Honourable Lynne Yelich; Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, The Honourable Norman L. Kwong; Minister of Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, The Honourable Lindsay Blackett; and His Worship Mayor Stephen Mandel from the City of Edmonton, as well as the Gallerys architectural team, Randall Stout Architects Incorporated.
As we open our doors to our new facility, we embrace a most ambitious agenda. It is an auspicious day for Edmontonians and Albertans as the AGA takes its place amongst great Canadian art museums with enormous enthusiasm and tremendous capacity, says Gilles Hébert, AGA Executive Director. We are committed to being leaders in the field and to providing our visitors with exceptional experiences. And this facility is perfectly suited to the bold future we envision.
The Gallery welcomed the public on January 31 and February 1, 2010 with free timed-ticket admission. Approximately 10,000 timed-tickets for the two-day opening were distributed via the Gallerys website. Released on January 18, 2010, these limited timed-tickets were fully booked in less than 24-hours. Gallery admission on the two opening days was only possible with a timed-ticket. Regular admission hours will begin February 2, 2010.
Celebrating its prominent location on Sir Winston Churchill Square in the heart of the Arts District in downtown Edmonton, the design of new AGA extends the Gallery into the community, welcoming visitors to experience art first hand. The design takes inspiration from the city of Edmontons unique northern environment and urban grid. Angular windows are juxtaposed against a winding 190-metre steel ribbon that references the forms of the North Saskatchewan River and Aurora Borealis. The movement of this continuous stainless steel structure through the Gallerys interior and exterior reinvents the museums public spaces, continually connecting visitors with their downtown surroundings. The building is crafted from three key materials: patinaed zinc, high performance glazing, and stainless steel. These materials reflect Edmontons dramatic weather pattern and the extreme contrast of the long days of summer and the short days of winter, allowing the building to transform in response to its natural surroundings.
Randall Stout Architects, Inc. (RSA) was selected from 25 international submissions during the spring of 2005, to redesign the former gallery building originally designed by Edmonton architect Don Bittorf in 1969. The RSA design was chosen by a selection committee and announced on October 15, 2005. The new building has nearly doubled the area of the former gallery and its environmental controls meet the highest museum standards.
The new AGA also includes an expanded education facility, the Singhmar Education Centre for Art Education, as well as upgraded art-handling facilities and celebratory public event spaces. Highlights include a fully outfitted theatre; a museum store, Shop AGA; a floating room, the Borealis Lounge; a relaxed fine dining establishment, Zinc; as well as the L1 Espresso Bar and 3rd floor Terrace Café. The AGA is directly accessible from Edmontons underground light rail transportation system (LRT) entrance.
Inaugural exhibitions feature significant works by artists from Alberta, Canada and beyond, including masters Edgar Degas and Francisco Goya, celebrated Canadian photographers Yousuf Karsh and Edward Burtynsky and internationally renowned Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. The new AGA also includes The BMO World of Creativity, an interactive childrens gallery that will focus on the theme of architecture for the opening year with the exhibition Play on Architecture! Two outdoor spaces have been added to the Gallery, which will feature sculpture by Alberta artists Ken Macklin and Peter Hide. A wide-range of public programs, including family activities, late night events, lectures, films and more, will animate exhibitions at the new AGA.